Dog waste management is a messy issue in Park City. It’s been a topic of rancor among residents without dogs and a learning curve for many who exercise them in the city’s open spaces.
In 2017, when Park City purchased the 1350-acre Bonanza Flat land, there were a handful of needed improvements to parking, trail access, toilet facilities and mitigating an overwhelming amount of dog waste. The immediate problem was evident with the poop piles and bags of waste left at trailheads and along popular hiking trails. Utah Open Lands was gathering data on dogs, and stewardship of their owners.
Fisher explains how they collected data and recognizes there were dedicated groups who would pick up after other’s messes. She thinks peer pressure may be part of the improved conditions and hopes people are learning good, responsible dog ownership.
I have to say that having received a number of threatening and angry phone calls it was a little bit tough at the beginning of the season but we did do a poop map which was a new fun thing for me and we had counted 26 piles of poop along the trail when the Blood Lake trail was no more than two to three weeks old, but we saw steady improvement.”
Fisher says we aren’t making more land, but more people are coming every year. She says the Wasatch Back is more visited than Yellowstone National Park.
“Whether you have a dog or not, whether you are out hiking, whether you are out biking, really think about not just the trail etiquette and how you are going to be treating other people on the trail but also leaving the place better than you found it. That is really what we need to be focusing on because this is going to be inherited by the next generation but even just today two years from now, next season, it is a loved property. Let's not love it to death.”
Park City plans to groom for Nordic skiing in Bonanza Flat this winter. She and city staff have looked at possible grooming areas that would have low impact.
The majority of the trail is actually going to be on two track disturbances so we're not really looking at needing to impact anything up there in order to set that Nordic trail. And it is a glorious place and we know that with climate change this is one of those places that people are going to want to get to.Fisher says for those wanting to ski the Nordic trails in Bonanza, people should pack a lunch.
“How they get there? It's still going to be hoofing it. It's not going to be easy necessarily to get there but we are looking forward to having a restroom available for people when they get up there and if people want to go up and experience that amazing place there will be the opportunity to do that this winter.”Fisher says humans can’t help but have an impact in Bonanza Flat and she is happy with the stewardship improvements like picking up after your dog…and yourself.
The draft conservation master plan will be presented to Park City council in December. Fisher hopes a final version will be approved before the end of the year.